Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly says contract extensions
for center Nikola Jokic and guard Will Barton are among his offseason priorities
and he hinted coach Michael Malone might be in line for one David
The Nuggets have increased their win totals from 30 to 40 to 46 under Malone
but they extended their playoff drought to five years when they lost in overtime
at Minnesota in the season finale this week.
”This is the most confident I’ve been in our core group since I’ve been
here,” said Connelly, who’s been in his post in Denver since 2013. ”I think we
have the makings of a team that can enjoy sustainably high levels of
”I think there’s going to be some pretty interesting financial decisions
we’ll make this offseason.”
Jokic was drafted in the second round in 2014 and signed a three-year, $4
million deal a year later. The Nuggets have a $1.6 million fourth-year option,
which they can decline this summer and instead give Jokic a max contract.
While that would crimp their budget next season, it would keep their star
away from free agency.
”He’s a guy that’s been tremendous in how quickly he’s developed and a guy
that we love and he loves Denver. So Authentic
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long-term contract, the better,” Connelly said Friday.
Connelly also lauded the versatile Barton’s growth, and said, ”we hope we can
get something done. He’s our guy. We love him and I think if he’s back in a
Denver jersey, it’s good for both him and the team.”
Malone has a year left on his original four-year deal he signed in 2015.
Although he wouldn’t commit to an extension for his coach this summer Authentic
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Malone and his staff, suggesting it would be foolhardy to view a 46-win season
as a disappointment or a fire-able offense.
”I think Coach and his staff have done a wonderful job,” Connelly said.
”We’ve got to continue to challenge each other. We’ve got to get better. This
press conference is premature. We can’t keep having it after the regular
In praising Malone, Connelly cited his 16-game improvement over two years and
the development of the team’s core young players, emphasizing the difficulty in
coaching a young team.
The Nuggets played better than any team in the West over the last dozen games
and took a six-game winning streak into the season finale against the
Timberwolves. That marked the first time in franchise history that the Nuggets
had posted six straight wins against teams with winning records.
Yet, their inability to close out a seventh straight victory left them
lamenting a dozen or so games they frittered away during a trying season in
which free agent addition Paul Millsap missed 44 games and second-leading scorer
Gary Harris missed 11.
”I thought 46 wins would have us firmly in the playoffs Miguel
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certainly disappointed we didn’t make it. … But as I reflect on the season and
the growth that we’ve shown, I’m unbelievably proud of our team.”
Yet, he’s also running low on patience.
”I thought we had extended stretches of very good basketball. I think at
times we had games that were inexcusable, and those games come back to haunt
you,” Connelly said.
Echoing Malone Authentic
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”playoffs-or-bust” undertaking, but next season certainly will have that
”I think we’re there,” Connelly said. ”How many times can you be the
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